Small Business Brief


10 Profitable Businesses with Low Overhead

Keep your business costs down from the start. Here are 10 businesses with low overhead and big returns.

Have you ever thought what it would be like to work for yourself?

Lots of Americans dream of giving up the day job. So many, in fact, that over 500,000 new businesses are being established every month.

It can be costly though, especially if you don’t have much experience.

But don’t let the cost of starting your own business put you off because there are several business ideas out that that don’t involve huge start-up costs.

To help you get started, here are 10 profitable businesses with low overhead costs that you could set up today.

Photography Services

Got the eye for photography? If it’s a hobby or a skill you already have, setting up a photography business is a cheap, very low-cost option if you’re looking to go it alone.

Photographers are in high demand for weddings, bar mitzvahs, advertising agencies, and small businesses across the country. If you’ve got the talent, put it to use!

Beyond the cost of the equipment involved, and a website to advertise your skills, you don’t need to spend much else.

Web Design Services

Web design is a popular choice for those seeking out businesses with low overhead because it doesn’t involve much in the way of upfront costs.

Got a computer? Outside of a basic web hosting service and domain name, the cost of which would be pretty low, you don’t have many other costs to consider. If you’ve got a creative side, this could be a fun and profitable venture to operate.

You can even learn how to be a web designer for free if you don’t have the skills yet.

Transcription Services

Fast typer? Utilise your skills as a transcriptionist.

Transcription is a great way to make use of your typing skills if you’ve got a keen ear. All you need is a quiet space to work, a good set of headphones, a computer and foot pedal to help you work through audio files efficiently.

If you’re looking at how you can market yourself as a transcriptionist, have a read through our budget-friendly marketing tips for some ideas.

SEO Agency

Search Engine Optimization is all about making websites rank well on search engines.

It doesn’t matter if you’re local or global. If no one is finding your business when they search for your industry, they’re not going to hire you because they won’t know who you are.

SEO agencies work to help make this less of a problem, and it’s a skill you can learn for free pretty quickly. It’s also another one of our businesses with low overhead because you don’t need to spend much money to make it work, you just need to be good!

Local Childcare

If you’re not very technical, then don’t worry, because there are plenty of other businesses with low overhead costs to try. Have you got kids, for instance, or have you worked with children before?

We all live busy lives, so setting up your own childcare business to help struggling parents is a cheap way to build a business without needing to spend much. Advertising can be done cheaply, or for free, just by posting notices in shop windows, in the local paper, or on social media.


If you’ve got a college degree, or you’re talented in a subject, why not offer to help local kids by tutoring them in a subject?

Charge by the hour, and tutor at their houses or in the comfort of your own home. The only real cost is the cost of your travel, as you can advertise your services in a similar way to a childcare business through your local community.

Personal Training

Spend a lot of time down the gym? It might be time to utilize your fitness skills to build a new business.

You can often work through or with local gyms, and if you’ve got the physique to show off, that’s all the advertising you need. It’s a great way to combine a hobby and talent (and lifestyle!) and the overhead costs are low, making it the perfect low-cost startup.

Accounting Services

Our day job can sometimes become our side gig, or our new full-time business completely. If you’re a trained accountant, for instance, you can set up your own freelance business working with small businesses, locally or remotely through the internet.

After all, we all find taxes confusing. You can charge well for your existing skills and work from home, so don’t have to worry about rent or other costs.


If you’ve got the know-how and skills to sell products, you might want to give dropshipping a try.

You don’t need to buy up lots of stock or find somewhere expensive to store it. When a customer buys an item, you buy it and ship it from a third party, acting as the middleman.

Most of the work involved can be set up automatically, using third-party services like ShipStation to take care of the hassle of shipping, and using shipstation inventory management solutions to worry about the stock.

Senior Care Services

In our old age, we all need a helping hand, so you could offer senior care services to the local community.

Businesses with low overhead like these don’t have many costs involved, other than transportation. You just need to be good with people, kind and understanding of the pressures our senior citizens face.

Consider Businesses with Low Overhead to Escape the Rat Race

With ideas in technology, fitness, retail, child and social care, the businesses with low overhead listed above all offer the chance to set up a venture that’s truly yours.

It might be to leave that boring office job, or maybe you just want a side gig to bring in some extra cash to give you a better quality of life.

Whatever your reasons are, give one of our ideas above a try.

Want to discuss your ideas at length, or just looking for some extra advice? Drop into our small business forum and see if our community of like-minded entrepreneurs can help!